NASA’s victorious spacecraft, Voyager 2, offers intriguing new data. The spacecraft succeeded in flying farther and farther from the Sun, observing how the density is growing. Such a thing was detected a few years ago by another brave NASA-vehicle, the Voyager 1.
How significant is the new batch of data? Also, what should we expect from Voyager 2?
Here is what you need to know.
The Voyagers So Far
According to scientists, the Solar System’s edge can be determined by some boundaries. One of these was crossed by the Voyager spacecraft and is dubbed heliopause.
Imagine a continuous supersonic wind of ionized plasma that comes from the Sun, and the heliopause is the point at which the external pressure of that wind is not so powerful to drive into the wind from interstellar space.
Also, the space inside the heliopause is something more known, called the heliosphere. The area outside represents the VLIM.
Both NASA’s brave probes reached the heliopause very closely, with a difference of about 67 degrees in heliographic latitude and 43 degrees longitude.
Furthermore, as the probes crossed beyond the heliopause, their devices (the Plasma Wave Science tools) captured the plasma’s electron density through plasma oscillation. For instance, Voyager 1 reached the heliopause at a length of 121.6 AU from Earth, back in 2012. The probe detected a plasma density of 0.055 electrons/cubic centimeters.
Voyager 2’s New Data
Voyager 2’s 2019 data indicated a much higher increase of approximately 0.12 electrons/cubic centimeter, at a length of 124.2 AU.
According to this data, scientists have two theories. First, the interstellar magnetic field lines are much stronger, producing an electromagnetic ion cyclotron imbalance that consumes the plasma from the draping area. The probe did capture a more powerful magnetic field than expected when it crossed the heliopause.
Secondly, the matter discharged by the interstellar wind lowered when it reached the heliopause, generating a sort of traffic jam.
Currently, more data is expected to figure everything out.
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